While Dorian is headed straight for our shores, the impacts will be different than those of Florence.
As Hurricane Dorian crawls its way north on a collision course with ENC, residents of the area may feel as though it’s Florence all over again. While the impacts of Dorian are going to be felt no matter what, there are some key differences between it and last year’s major hurricane, according to officials.
[Editor's note: To view an interactive map of Hurricane Dorian, click here.]
Dorian will arrive from the south and head north, the usual direction of most hurricanes that arrive in ENC. Florence, however, came from the east and headed straight west across the state.
“It’s really uncommon,” Bel Melendez, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office at Morehead City said. “It has happened before in history but it’s not really common.”
Florence coming from that direction caused ocean water to push into the state at exceptional levels in the form of storm surge. This storm surge caused flooding throughout the area.
“It was the perfect trajectory,” Melendez said.
With Dorian arriving from the south, the amount of storm surge could be less, according to Melendez.
[Editor's note: If you have questions about Hurricane Dorian, let us answer them by filling out the Google form found here.]
Florence’s track from east to west also exposed ENC to the worst area of a hurricane, the forward-side, Melendez said. When the area was under assault from that side of Florence, it saw the highest rainfall, the strongest winds, and a large amount of storm surge. If Dorian’s track remains offshore, ENC could likely be exposed to the western quadrant of the hurricane. Although the effects would not be as extreme as those from Florence, it will still bring significant impacts to the area.
“One thing I do want people to know is to not focus on the track,” Melendez said. “Even if the storm makes a right turn, we’re still going to get the impacts regardless.”
Melendez emphasized not focusing on the wind category of the hurricane as well, as the impacts include rain, storm surge, and possibly tornadoes.
The amount of rain Dorian will bring is also expected to be less than Florence. Last year Florence dumped around 30 inches of rain along coastline areas, according to Melendez. The current projected rainfall from Dorian will be eight-to-11 inches, she said. Although it may seem like a considerable difference, ENC was recently upgraded from hurricane watch status to hurricane warning, which means within the next 36 hours impacts will arrive. Winds of 74 miles per hour, heavy rainfall, and storm surge are expected in that time frame.
“This is the time to have your hurricane preparedness plan and be ready,” Melendez said. “Because your window of opportunity to be ready is starting to close.”
Dorian’s effects will be dependent on how close it gets to land. If it stays out over the sea the impacts will be less, but Melendez and the NWS are still uncertain of the track. As Dorian plods along the coasts of Florida and Georgia, there is still ample time for things to change.
“I cannot make the call on the exact track,” Melendez said. “It’s too early to say.”
However, while it’s looking more and more likely that Dorian’s worst side will not expose itself to ENC like Florence did, there will still be a hurricane coming through the area.
“I don’t want people to drop their guard,” she said. “There’s still impacts to be felt.”
Reporter Kevin Vandenburg can be reached at 910-219-8453 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For digital subscription information, click here.